The start to Anthony Volpe’s professional career has been fraught with speed bumps and roadblocks, specifically mononucleosis in the summer of 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic that wiped out minor league schedules in the summer of 2020.
Despite concerns about a recent uptick on COVID-19 positive tests, prospects look much better for a full 2021 summer of baseball, especially with a vaccine expected to hit the streets in a matter of weeks. That’s great news for Volpe and every other minor leaguer looking to improve and advance with their ultimate goal of reaching the major leagues.
Volpe, a longtime Diamond Jack out of Diamond Nation in Flemington, N.J. and a Delbarton High grad, was drafted 30th overall by the Yankees in the 2019 Major League Draft. After receiving a bonus of $2.7 million, the 5-11, 180 shortstop was assigned to Rookie League Pulaski in Virginia. That first foray into professional ball two summers ago had some expected highs and lows before ending prematurely after 34 games.
Volpe came down with mononucleosis in August of his first summer with the Yankees and had to be shut down under normal precautions with the illness. He was batting .215 with a .349 on-base percentage to that point and had rapped out 11 extra-base hits among his 26 overall hits. He had seven doubles, two triples and a pair of home runs that contributed to his 11 RBI. He drew 23 walks, stole six bases and struck out 38 times.
MLB.com’s prospect guru Jim Callis has Volpe ranked No. 10 among the Yankees Top Prospects, seven of which have already spent time with the major league club. Volpe, 19, is the second youngest in the group. Only top-ranked phenom Jasson Dominguez, a 17 year-old outfielder out of the Dominican Republic, is younger than Volpe.
Callis gives a thorough evaluation of Volpe to date.
“Mononucleosis hampered him in his pro debut but didn’t diminish New York’s belief that he can emerge as a solid hitter and defender,” says Callis.
“More advanced than most teenagers at the plate, Volpe employs a compact right-handed swing and laces line drives from gap-to-gap. He struck out 25 percent of his plate appearances during his debut, but he should make much more contact once he’s healthy and gains strength. He has some bat speed and could develop double-digit home run power, though he understands his focus is getting on base.”
Volpe’s .349 on-base percentage through those first 34 games indicates there is a lot of sense that thinking by the Yankees. He’s high level of baseball instincts have been evident, too. Volpe is a player who has played all over the globe for USA Baseball and the highest level of ball on the travel circuit and with his high school team.
“Volpe’s instincts help him play above his tools on the bases and in the field,” says Callis. “He’s a solid runner who’s a threat to steal and take an extra base when the opportunity presents itself. Despite an average arm, he figures to stay at shortstop because he has quick hands and gets rid of the ball quickly.”
Callis has tabbed 2023 as Volpe’s estimated arrival year to the major leagues.